Flight Lieutenant Kristian Henderson, who is a RAAF air traffic controller (ATC) in the landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide, jumped in feet first when the ship’s dive team was looking for new divers.
Flight Lieutenant Henderson completed Navy’s three-week scuba air diving (SAD) course at the Australian Defence Force Diving School at HMAS Penguin in Sydney.
He can now support scheduled ship’s maintenance as well as unexpected and short-notice tasks such as clearing a propeller from ropes or fishing nets.
He admitted he had a few jitters when he started the dive course in early April.
“As someone who has never dived before, I was apprehensive about taking on this unique challenge,” Flight Lieutenant Henderson said.
“However, I was blown away by the professionalism, proficiency and patience of the dive school instructors.”
The dive school’s lead SAD instructor, Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Carl Keighran, said the trainees primarily came from the Navy.
“Throughout the course, Flight Lieutenant Henderson showed a high degree of trainability and a willingness to learn and excel,” Leading Seaman Keighran said.
“I would encourage other members of the Air Force or Army who are attached to Navy ships to consider this opportunity.”
Flight Lieutenant Kristian Henderson maintains HMAS Adelaide’s diving team’s equipment in the diving store. Photo: Leading Seaman Matthew Lyall
Flight Lieutenant Henderson and six other trainees on the dive course studied diving medicine and diving procedures, including surface and sub-surface searches.
Their dive locations included Darling Harbour, where they dived below a decommissioned RAN destroyer and submarine moored alongside the Australian Maritime Museum.
“Diving under HMAS Vampire and HMAS Onslow at night after only a few weeks is pretty amazing,” Flight Lieutenant Henderson said.
Usually, he is part of a small contingent of RAAF ATCs in Adelaide who provide a radar-based approach control service to military aircraft operating to or in the vicinity of the ship.
They are also involved in the planning of air operations and liaise with military and civilian airspace authorities.
“We are incredibly fortunate to represent the RAAF as a part of this triservice platform,” Flight Lieutenant Henderson said.